Going On A Road Trip? Tips To Improve Driving Fatigue

About a week ago a young, promising teenage boy was killed on my road. He was coming back from night fishing when his car veered off and hit a tree. He was killed instantly. There were no witnesses but everyone feels he may have fallen asleep behind the wheel. He was only 17 years old.

Driver fatigue is a dangerous game to play. You always think you can make it. Just 25 more miles, I am almost there. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes you don’t make it.

Wake up. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of Americans have sleep-related problems at some time in their life and 23 percent have actually fallen asleep while driving. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that drowsiness and/or fatigue is a contributing factor in approximately 100,000 motor vehicle crashes annually and is a factor in nearly four percent of all fatal crashes.

Let’s look at some preventative measures you can take to reduce your likelihood of being involved in a drowsy driving collision.

  • Get some sleep: This one may seem like a given, but most drowsy driving incidents are the result of a driver who is not fully rested. The best way to decrease drowsiness behind the wheel is to ensure you’ve gotten enough sleep before getting in the car. Learn to recognize the ways that drowsiness and fatigue affect you individually, and avoid driving if you are sleep-deprived.
  • Bring a friend: A recent UCLA study found that 82% of drowsy driving incidents were caused by single-occupant vehicles. Passengers can greatly decrease your chances of falling asleep while driving. Furthermore, a licensed passenger may be able to take over in the driver’s seat if you become sleepy behind the wheel.
  • Use rest stops: Commonly found along our nation’s freeways and highways, rest areas are designed as safe spaces where you can park your car and, if need be, take a quick nap. Some rest stops will only allow you to remain in the area for up to an hour, but this should be adequate time for a restful nap. A popular trend among today’s drivers is to take a caffeine nap, or consume a caffeinated beverage and then get some shuteye. The caffeine will take effect after 15 to 20 minutes, leaving the napper feeling even more refreshed when they wake up. Speaking of caffeine…
  • Manage your caffeine intake: In addition to coffee, caffeine can also be found in a wide range of teas and carbonated beverages. Chocolate is another good source. While caffeine will provide extra energy, it is not an adequate replacement for sleep. So if you feel yourself getting drowsy after a cup of joe and a candy bar, then you should consider stopping for a nap.
  • Chew gum: Chewing gum exercises your jaw muscles, which can stimulate your senses and increase alertness. This is a good temporary energy source if you are not hungry or thirsty.
  • Get plenty of fresh air: Carbon dioxide can make us feel sleepy, especially in stuffy car interiors. Opening car windows or adjusting the vent controls to bring in outside air can lower carbon dioxide levels and, in turn, reduce the risk of drowsy driving.
  • Listen to music: The solo driver’s best friend is often the radio. Rather than listening to at a high volume – which can damage your hearing – consider listening to energetic music.
  • If possible, drive while the sun shines: Your circadian rhythm will keep you feeling more awake and alert during the daylight hours. Additionally, sunlight stimulates your brain and extends your reaction time while driving. Natural sunlight is also a source of Vitamin D, which can help you sleep better at night.
  • Use an app: Car manufacturers are currently developing automated systems to help drivers avoid drowsiness. In the meantime, a smartphone app can provide the same service. These apps monitor driver eye activities when the smart device is mounted on the dashboard.
  • When in doubt, check into a room: If you feel drowsy and there don’t appear to be any rest areas nearby, then you should consider checking into a hotel, motel or other roadside lodging facility. Ask at the front desk if they offer an hourly room rate; this may allow you to catch a few hours of sleep and be back on the road relatively soon.

Remember: it is dangerous and against the law to pull your car onto the shoulder of a freeway or highway in order to sleep.

Alcohol use is another important consideration. The effects of alcohol on humans vary from person to person, and often depend on factors like weight and medical history. The general rule of thumb is that 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of liquor are all roughly equivalent, and that more than three individual servings of any combination over the course of a few hours will cause intoxication. However, even one serving of alcohol can cause you to become drowsy.

Additionally, it’s important for people who regularly take medication to read the warning labels, even if they have been prescribed for a non-sleep-related condition. The following medication types are designed to induce drowsiness to some extent:

  • Hypnotics and other sleep aids
  • Narcotic pain relief pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Certain medications for high blood pressure
  • Cold medicine
  • Certain antihistamines
  • Muscle relaxants

Finally, understanding your own individual symptoms of drowsy driving is critical when you are on the road. If you are concerned about your fatigue level and worried that drowsiness may be impacting your driving, here are a few considerations to make:

  1. Are you yawning or blinking frequently? Is your head suddenly feeling really heavy? These are some of the ways your body will let you know you’re tired.
  2. If you are driving on familiar roads, have you missed any traffic signals? As you become more tired, your mind often focuses on controlling the car ? and as a result, you may drive right through a traffic signal or stop sign.
  3. How close are you to the vehicle in front of you? Drowsy drivers often (and unintentionally) tailgate other vehicles.
  4. What do you remember about the last few miles of your drive? As your body gets more exhausted, you will likely remember fewer details of the drive.
  5. Are your thoughts coherent? Or is your mind wandering all over the place? Pay attention to your mental activities, and pull over if you have a hard time thinking clearly.
  6. Did you miss your exit? Are you aware of your current location in relation to other exits?
  7. Are you starting to lose control of the car? Has your vehicle started swerving? Have you been jarred awake after inadvertently crossing the rumble strip?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should get off the road immediately and refrain from driving until you are properly rested.

4 Ways To Make Your Car Perform Better

 

In these days of high gasoline prices, it may seem ridiculous to consider ways to increase your car’s performance as they are almost always associated with increased fuel consumption. However, there are four ways to increase performance that does not have to negatively impact your gas mileage. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  1. Reusable Air Filters.Landfills are stuffed with items we use once and then throw out. Auto air filters are one such item and through the life of a car you can go through 6-12 of them with no problem. For approximately three times the price, washable and reusable air filters are a great alternative. When you purchase one it likely will be the last air filter your car will ever need. Reusable air filters enable you to gain slight increases in horsepower and acceleration as well as to impact the environment in a positive way.
  2. Performance Chips.All new cars are operated by a computer chip that tells how much torque and horsepower can be displaced. Performance chips or recalibrations of your current chip can produce significant increases in horsepower and torque for your vehicle.
  3. Performance Exhaust Systems.Cat-back or “catalyst-back exhaust systems” are a great way to free up trapped torque and to unleash horsepower. Keeping all the important emissions parts in place, a cat-back system incorporates large width exhaust pipes and low restriction performance mufflers into your car thereby lowering exhaust back pressure. A side benefit is a really awesome sound emitting from the exhaust system.
  4. Cold Air Intake.A cold air intake is an under the hood modthat helps to reduce the temperature of the air entering the car for the sole purpose of increasing the power of the engine. Side benefits include enhancements to the appearance of the engine bay as this part can be attractive and colorful; the sound the unit makes is also appealing.

Costs for each of these performance enhancements can vary greatly. Shopping online with a trusted wholesaler is one of the best ways to find top quality parts at the lowest possible prices. By doing the work yourself, you can save a bundle and enjoy the fruits of your labor in no time.

 

Get To Know Your Auto Service Contract Before Signing

 

Today, buying car is not just simply buying a car. This is because when a person wants to buy a car, there are many additional services that tag along. One great example of these so-called extras is the auto service contract.

These auto service contracts are not necessarily required by most car dealers. However, most car buyers are enticed to get one in order to protect themselves against unforeseen circumstances such as expensive car repairs.

Generally, auto service contracts are pledges made by the agency, usually the car dealer, responsible to provide the necessary services or repairs that the buyer or the contract holder is entitled to.

The problem with some people is that they categorize auto service contract as the same with extended car warranties. What they do not know is that car warranties are normally included in the price of the new car bought while auto service contracts can be obtained any time even if the person did not buy a new car. Moreover, auto service contracts are always an additional cost for the car buyer meaning he may or may not obtain an auto service contract.

However, just like the other financial decisions, careful deliberation is extremely important before making some final decisions. This is because not all auto service contracts are made equal.

Here is a list of the factors that need to be considered when getting an auto service contract:

1. Buyers should be aware of the terms and conditions stipulated in the auto service contract.

In every agency or company that provides auto service contracts, each has its own terms and conditions. Hence, it is important for every buyer to know first the terms as stipulated in the contract so as to know what kinds of details are included and what are those that are not included.

2. Buyers should know the specific entity who will perform the required services.

In this way, the buyer would know what goes on when a certain service is required. In this way, the contract holder would know where to ask for the repairs and to whom they should ask for the needed services.

3. Know the reputation of those who will provide auto service contracts.

It is extremely important to know how long the company or the dealer has been in the business. Along with it comes the reputation that has been built for so many years of reliable services and performances that the customers were able to testify.

The important thing here is that people should be aware of what they are paying for. After all, itís their money that is at risk.

Tips To Help Your Car “Go Green”

 

Last year marked a turning point in which Earth-friendly alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles gained major attention and an increasing market share. On top of that, the AAA Great Battery Roundup collected more than 20,000 used vehicle batteries and disposed of them in an environmentally sound manner.

But you don’t need to have old batteries lying around or buy a different vehicle to protect the environment. According to AAA spokesman Michael Calkins, you can make a meaningful contribution by adopting two easy-to-implement strategies: regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits.

The following tips can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

* Keep your engine running at peak performance in order to conserve fuel. Perform regular vehicle maintenance at the intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Seek timely service if the “check engine” warning light remains illuminated on the dash.

To find a trustworthy repair facility, ask friends for recommendations or search on www.aaa.com for AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities near you.

* Check the air pressure in your car’s tires regularly. Underinflated tires require your engine to work harder and use more fuel to maintain a given speed.

* Have your vehicle’s air conditioning serviced only by technicians who are certified to properly handle and recycle automotive refrigerants. Older air conditioning systems contain ozone-depleting chemicals that could be released into the atmosphere.

* Some older vehicles use switches that contain highly toxic mercury to activate hood, trunk and glove-box lights. Many organizations, including a number of AAA clubs across the country, now host mercury “switch out” programs in which these environmentally hazardous parts are removed for recycling and replaced with nontoxic mechanical switches.

* Avoid “jack rabbit” starts, sudden acceleration, and speeds above the posted limits; all of these habits guzzle gas.

* Properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Call your local government waste management agency to find out how. Never dispose of fluids on the ground or in any manner that might allow them to make their way into groundwater, lakes or streams.

Proper vehicle maintenance and environmentally friendly driving habits conserve natural resources, reduce exhaust emissions and reward you with a vehicle that will last longer and be safer to drive. In other words, when you “go green,” the Earth wins, your car wins — and you are the biggest winner of all!

Make Your Next Home Car Wash A Greener One

Whether you drive a perky hybrid or a well-loved clunker, there’s a greener way to wash your own car. Of course, from a standpoint of water use, commercial car washes are the “eco-friendlier” option (they tend to recycle and reuse the water). But there are steps you can take to lower the environmental impact of a car wash at home. Here’s how to wash a car and come out ahead.

1. Get out of the driveway.

Bring the car from the driveway into the yard. This will help prevent the runoff – and all the gas, oil, tar and other particulates on your vehicle – from draining into your storm sewers.  Of course, if you don’t want the chemicals of conventional cleaners seeping into your yard, you’ll want to opt for natural cleaners (some options below).

2. Put away the paper towels.

Washing with paper towels is needlessly wasteful. But there’s no need to buy shop towels or packets of ‘heavy duty’ paper towlettes. Rip up some old t-shirts, use an oversized sea sponge, or repurpose fraying washcloths from your closet. Many old fabrics can be upcycled and used again and again.

3. Step away from the hose.

Leaving the hose on throughout the washing process can waste gallons and gallons of water. Find yourself a couple of good-sized buckets and fill them up—this is all the water you need. If your hose has an automatic shut-off trigger, you can keep it around and gently mist the car to rinse.

4. Consider waterless.

You can put that hose away altogether if you consider a waterless car wash product over a traditional car cleaner. Just apply and wipe off, conserving water and eliminating runoff entirely.

5. Try a greener cleaner.

If waterless isn’t your thing, there are a number of natural car wash products on the market that won’t harm the earth with runoff.

I hope these tips inspire you to spend a day taking care of your car – and the earth – with a green car wash.  Spring is the perfect time for keeping clean, and green!